If we’re going to be talking to our children about God, there are a number of things we want to get straight for ourselves first. Here are a few tips inspired by conversations with the late Clifford Warne:
1. You can’t introduce them to someone you don’t know
As we introduce children to God, we need to be people who continue to know God by speaking to him, listening to him and being shaped by him in an active way. Only then can we really teach our children what God is like.
2. Please don’t tell me Jesus loves me if you don’t love me too
We all love our children, but many of us find it difficult to always show our children that we love them. If we are not careful, this can undermine the way they come to understand God’s love for them.
3. Please don’t tell me to love others if you don’t love others too
Sadly, there are many families in which long term disagreements and breakdowns have simply become part of the relationship landscape. Children come to accept that, ‘we don’t see Uncle Frank and his kids because he doesn’t get on with my dad’. They also notice whom we do and don’t have around for meals and pick up on the kinds of people we choose to spend time with. How can we tell our children to be loving or even ‘be kind to others at school’ if we are not modeling this in the home?
4. Please don’t tell me to trust Jesus if you don’t trust him too
Our children see the way we respond to life in all of its trials and joys. What did your children see when the news of the redundancy came through? When the phone rang with news about your elderly parent? When the credit card bill arrived? How can we teach our children to trust Jesus with their biggest need if we don’t trust him with our smallest needs?
5. Please don’t tell me church is important if it is not important to you
Our children learn a lot about God when we bring them to church, but they also learn just as much on the weeks we choose not to go. Being realistic, there will always be some weeks through the year when you are not able to attend, but what lessons are your children learning on those days?
As you can tell, the principle behind these ideas is that our actions speak louder than words. If we are seeking to raise godly children, we must model a commitment to God – a trust in God and the real contentment that a relationship with God provides.
However, it is comforting to know that when we fail as parents, all is not lost!
We must pray that the Holy Spirit will work within our children doing the spiritual work, which we cannot do.